Burnley are the happier with this draw as the Premier League’s 15th-placed side remain eight points ahead of Fulham, who as the team in the last relegation position would have hoped for victory to cut their deficit to four to Newcastle in 17th.
Sean Dyche, Burnley’s manager, said: “It’s another point on the board – we are stripped to the bare bones. It was a committed performance. The reaction to their goal was excellent and we defended well. It’s remarkably unfortunate how many injuries we have had.”
Ben Mee’s concussion and a knock to Erik Pieters made them the latest two players Dyche was without.
Scott Parker, the Fulham manager, could reflect on an impressive yield of four points from their past two outings. “We have taken four points from and we go into Sheffield United [on Saturday] trying to win the game,” he said. “If we take seven points this week, it will be a massive week. The gap [to safety] was 10 points. It is six now. Things are going in the right direction.”
The contest will hardly linger in the memory: a standard lower-table affair with both teams not daring gamble in case they came unstuck.
After a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, Dyche replaced Mee and Pieters with Kevin Long and Charlie Taylor. Unsurprisingly, Parker was content enough with Fulham’s win at Everton on Sunday – only a third in the league this term – to leave an XI which contained seven loanees unchanged.
Burnley began by hemming the visitors in, though they lacked end product, as each team mostly would throughout. This was evident when Ademola Lookman skated along the left and ran into trouble.
Moments later Lookman delivered the first corner, which Tosin Adarabioyo headed weakly, allowing Nick Pope to gather. As the midway point approached in the first half a suspicion grew that a draw was the aim of each team given the stodgy fare.
When Burnley’s Dwight McNeil swung in a free-kick from the left, Alphonse Areola could only palm the ball as Ashley Barnes roved in: Fulham’s goalkeeper was relieved that Bobby Decordova-Reid hoofed clear.
Areola was again at fault under the next McNeil high ball, a corner from the right: the on-loan Paris Saint‑Germain keeper failed to challenge Long who should not have steered his header too high.
Better from those in white shirts was a Ruben Loftus-Cheek cross he skimmed over the turf that had Josh Maja and Long contesting a 50-50. At the other end, peppering Areola had become Burnley’s chief tactic. Ashley Westwood took two corners from the left. At the first the Frenchman was again rooted in a no-man’s land and Fulham escaped. His second effort was better as he punched the ball away with confidence.
Six minutes before the interval Johann Berg Gudmundsson was forced off injured, Robbie Brady replacing him. In a disappointing 45 minutes this rated an incident worth recording, especially given Brady’s fortunes soon after the break.
When Jay Rodriguez wandered off for this he rued having missed the contest’s clearest chance, the striker unable to convert a James Tarkowski pass from the left that bisected Fulham’s defence.
It was the visitors who took the lead at the start of the second half via a goal that had an element of farce about it. Lookman’s corner from the right skidded inadvertently off Joachim Andersen, the ball then clattered from Ola Aina’s chest and the hapless Brady’s attempted hook clear went straight in.
If this was a lifeline for Fulham in their relegation fight, it was thrown away within four minutes. Rodriguez made a patsy of Adarabioyo along the right and picked out Barnes, whose finish convinced.
Rodriguez then forced Areola into a sharp save with his legs, before Brady’s evening took an unfortunate turn. After missing a header to give his side the advantage, Dyche substituted the substitute – it may have been for an injury – and introduced Josh Brownhill. This was the second time Brady has suffered the fate this season, the previous occasion being in November’s win over Crystal Palace here.
From this juncture both teams huffed and puffed until the end and a point each felt fair.